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Why Education is very much a Zen Issue...

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Why Education is very much a Zen Issue...

Postby christopher::: on Sun Jun 28, 2015 1:14 am

Right now in nations around the world there is a struggle going on in the field of education. Government and business leaders in the United States and many other "developed" nations are attempting to put into place a rather "child unfriendly" form of education "reform" that emphasizes rigid standards, questionable learning goals, punitive teacher assessments and widespread high-stakes testing.

These new standards and methods of reforming school systems are being challenged by educational professionals, but with little effect. In Japan, where I live, methods of teaching in public schools have not changed much in almost 50 years. Both of my sons are going through the education system here. It's all about tests and memorization, with little emphasis on the development of creative thinking, coherent knowledge integration or useful skills. Obedience to authority and a willingness to work very hard when the work seems to be meaningless appears to be part of the education objective.

As all this is happening there is simultaneously a revolution going on with research into the human brain and learning. This is my field, and its very exciting. I have summarized some of that research here.

What does this have to do with Zen? Well, in Japan there developed educational approaches with the arts and sports which incorporate a Zen approach… Tea ceremony, archery, judo, flower arrangement, aikido and other traditional arts are taught in a way that emphasizes mastery and skill development. There are ranks given, but these are not presented in a punitive way, and always it is understood that a person will continuously improve.

This corresponds to what psychologist Carol Dweck calls a "growth orientation" or mastery approach to learning. There are many other aspects that relate, such as research into what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls, flow aka, the psychology of optimal experience. The mindfulness and concentration practice of Zen is something crucial for deep learning and mastery. Unfortunately, currently governments and corporate-minded people in positions of power do not seem to be interested in promoting this type of learning, and are actively trying to inhibit it.

Some more thoughts on this, for anyone interested: The Real Agenda of So-Called Education Reform

“I never blame teachers or schools… But there is this deadly culture of standardizing, that’s being pushed on them, politically. My core message here is that we have to personalize education, not standardize it. That all children are different, and we have to find their talents and cultivate them.” ~Ken Robinson

“In recent years, there’s a strong tendency to require assessment of children and teachers so that you have to teach to tests. And the test determines what happens to the child and what happens to the teacher. That’s guaranteed to destroy any meaningful educational process. It means the teacher cannot be creative, imaginative, pay attention to individual students’ needs..” ~Noam Chomsky
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Re: Why Education is very much a Zen Issue...

Postby lobster on Tue Jun 30, 2015 3:40 am

I left education because it was increasingly difficult to bypass this attempt to restrict and cheapen the potential for widening our learning, experience and knowledge.

:daisy:

I feel kids and many others are subverting this control agenda through the Internet. By such self educating either skilfully or prone to disinformation, we at least have evolving options ...

:)
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Re: Why Education is very much a Zen Issue...

Postby desert_woodworker on Tue Jun 30, 2015 3:57 am

christopher::: wrote:Right now in nations around the world there is a struggle going on in the field of education. Government and business leaders in the United States and many other "developed" nations are attempting to put into place a rather child unfriendly form of education reform that emphasizes rigid standards, questionable learning goals, punitive teacher assessments and widespread high-stakes testing.

Too, too, bad.

Yes? And is it their "right" to do that, considering it's what they paid for, minus the interpretive commentary you provide?

If so, you'd better give them what they want. They are the "Boss". Eh?

Teachers may know how to teach, but surely can't claim to know what's BEST to teach.

What's best is what's funded.

Else, private schools may make hash of any "best", elsewhere.

Fond of eating?

Just saying. Done with schooling and teaching decades ago, here! Retired.

In all sympathy,

Bite the bullet,

...and do the dither you know how to,

Hail!

--Joe
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Re: Why Education is very much a Zen Issue...

Postby Chrisd on Tue Jun 30, 2015 4:04 pm

Always interesting. Thx for the update Christopher, I hope you'll keep posting about it.

In a somewhat subversive way, the love of learning and natural curiosity that children bring into this world is being re-programmed, so that they can be taught to work hard in order to please others, and to do things for utilitarian reasons, to obtain external rewards and status, rather than intrinsic happiness.


:cool: I'll read more of what you posted later.
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Re: Why Education is very much a Zen Issue...

Postby Avisitor on Tue Jun 30, 2015 4:47 pm

It is the idea that nations need to be able to compete in an international economy
This requires its children to be versed in math and languages to a test standard
The results are to push children to learn more and to memorize
Teachers are pushed to teach in terms of test results

What is happening?
Creativity is lost
Understanding that these are kids and not machines is lost
Ideas that learning can be fun is lost
The children are put under more pressure to perform well under test conditions

As parents, one has to ask if this is the proper way to educate our children?
Won't it cause more children to be left behind?
Are the standards creating a generation of test takers?
Will the children grow up just looking for material rewards and not intrinsic happiness?

Those things are important.
Is it related to Zen Buddhism?
Believe it affects us all if the schools take time and money away from programs which nurture creativity and the arts
And this will eventually affect Zen Buddhism. But, that is such a far sight that no one can really predict.
Disclaimer: There is no intent to be offensive in my posts. None was intended and none should be interpreted as such.
Sorry, got a message that I was not being PC.
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Re: Why Education is very much a Zen Issue...

Postby christopher::: on Thu Jul 02, 2015 7:47 am

Hi all, thanks for responding :)

I think this is a Zen Buddhist issue in a number of ways. Buddhism is about cultivating compassion, mindfulness and wisdom. The current education reforms are not wise, mindful or compassionate, they create unnecessary suffering for both children and teachers. The are intentionally trying to sabotage educational approaches which are much wiser and caring, so as an "engaged Buddhist" I see this as one of many important areas needing attention in our world.

Wise and compassionate educational approaches (such as you can see below in the Mission Hill school project) foster concentration, mindfulness, cooperation, unselfish joy (mudita) and high skill development- helping children to become successful and skilled adults, and to pursue their "right livelihood" in the world.



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Re: Why Education is very much a Zen Issue...

Postby lobster on Tue Sep 29, 2015 1:14 am

Great schooling exists as the video @christopher posted shows. :peace:

Education involves returning to lessons not yet learned or for us older children unlearning. :heya:

Bringing adults, parents and the elderly into the process of promoting the continuity and interaction of past and future generations, makes for a more fun environment.

It is wonderful how much can be learned despite education and how much continues to be discovered about alternatives to limiting education to economic, religious, political, on line or other partial schoolings.

Must be time togo to do go ... eh ... dojo :dance:
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Re: Why Education is very much a Zen Issue...

Postby TTT on Tue Sep 29, 2015 10:47 am

Education have changed "onwords" by the years and will keep changing. As times are changing, and it s good thet some one thinks about it in thes terms.
Hundrad years ago one, the teacher, culd beet the studen as of now he/she can not do that. Now a days its more of a psycological and self inposed system where one, the student, learn to say its my, its my fault and so on. Soo we have a shift here. Probable it s the same from the student and the teacher and the public view in terms of "repession" if we can use thet Word here. But i guess there are smal differences.
when i see the education video from Chapel hill school i notis how light the school was and the flowers on the table in the teachers room, probably a good start?
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Re: Why Education is very much a Zen Issue...

Postby cam101+ on Fri Oct 07, 2016 2:06 am

Zen has nothing to do w/ Japan or education.
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Re: Why Education is very much a Zen Issue...

Postby desert_woodworker on Fri Oct 07, 2016 6:03 am

Christopher,

Wondering if you're still living and teaching in Japan... .

And are you still available to pound these boards? ;-)

:Namaste:,

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Re: Why Education is very much a Zen Issue...

Postby cam101+ on Mon Oct 10, 2016 11:42 am

"Tea ceremony, archery, judo, flower arrangement, aikido"

These things have nothing to do w/ Zen Buddhism (you left out "Buddhism" in your description. It is always "Zen Buddhism"). These are cultural trappings only. Zen Buddhism is, to go w/ the words of someone wiser than myself, the study of the self. Until we understand the self, we understand nothing. When we understand the self, we understand everything.

First, practice Zen Buddhism, then work w/ the world.
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Re: Why Education is very much a Zen Issue...

Postby Caodemarte on Mon Oct 10, 2016 2:58 pm

Working with the world is practicing Zen Buddhism as is sitting zazen.
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Re: Why Education is very much a Zen Issue...

Postby HePo on Mon Oct 10, 2016 4:44 pm

"Tea ceremony, archery, judo, flower arrangement, aikido"
These things have nothing to do w/ Zen Buddhism.

"Nothing" seems to be a rather bold and inaccurate statement, just like "First, practice Zen Buddhism, then work w/ the world."?????

perhaps the most beautiful and inspiring tearoom i have visited
nanzen-ji_tearoom.jpg

in case someone is not familiar with Nanzen-ji Nanzen-ji temple
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Re: Why Education is very much a Zen Issue...

Postby desert_woodworker on Mon Oct 10, 2016 5:11 pm

I'd say instead that the several arts mentioned have everything to do with Zen Buddhism, and were formed and informed in Japan by it.

I'd also say that the same arts are not necessary, and are not essential, for a practitioner of Zen Buddhism anywhere in the world.

Rather, the uniting constant of practitioners is correct zazen and other practices, learned with a true teacher, and shared with a sangha.

The arts are natural expressions of the awakened mind, and can also be tools, helpful aids, for enabling awakening.

Awakening depends on practice, yes, but also on cooperating causes and conditions, and the arts can definitely "cooperate". :tongueincheek:

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